Dinky Toys, made in Hong Kong 1979, the Rover SD1/3500
IDJ has sent the following article about the brief production in Hong Kong, in 1979, by Meccano, owners of Dinky Toys, of a new model car.
HF: I have retyped the original article.
Thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyped version.
‘Dinky Toys’ and ‘Hong Kong’ don’t quite seem to go together, do they? After all, Dinky had been making high-quality diecast cars since the 1930s, whereas Hong Kong had a reputation for churning out cheap plastic copies of other people’s designs.
But by the late 1970s things were not going well at the Meccano factory in Liverpool where Dinky Toys were produced. The company had been in financial trouble for years and had been bought out, first by Lines Brothers, owners of Britain’s biggest toy brand, Tri-ang, and subsequently by Airfix of plastic kit fame. Intense competition from Matchbox and Corgi, and subsequently from the Far East, meant that the days of the Binns Road factory were numbered.
One rather desperate tactic in these final years was to sub-contract manufacture to Hong Kong. This had, in fact, already been tried before, once with a group of American cars produced mainly for export in the mid-60s, and a few years later with the Mini-Dinky series, an unsuccessful range of smaller-scale models.
In 1979 Meccano once again outsourced production of a new model to Hong Kong, the Rover SD1 or 3500. The front doors and the tailgate opened on the Dinky but cost-cutting could be seen in the use of plastic for the base. Two other modern British cars were planned by dinky in the late-70s, a Princess 2200HL and a Ford Granada Ghia, but the latter was never produced.
Rival firm Corgi also modelled the Rover and made a better job of it: its car felt more solid, had nicer wheels and, in addition to opening boot and doors, was fitted with an opening bonnet and chromed bumpers. While Dinky’s Rover featured on the cover of its 1979 catalogue, the famous Liverpool factory closed its doors at the end of the year.
Source: Octane Magazine September 2020.
This article was first posted on 23rd March 2021.
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